In the packed congregation solemnity ruled

Today’s writing prompt is also taken from Laurie Lee’s Cider with Rosie.

Word spread, rumours sliding through the grass on the hisses of adders, whispers hitching lifts in the feathers of birds, and tales validated in the grunts of boar, and vixen siren calls.

A glaucous moon offered its pale, setting light to the gathering in the woods. In the packed congregation solemnity ruled.

‘Who will speak for us?’ A bolder-than-most hare asked of no-one.

Squeaks, grumbles, chirrups, but no volunteers, until …

‘I will.’ Eagle’s talons curled around the oak branch. He twisted his head, his third eyelid flashing to soften his piercing gaze.

Boar grunted. ‘Will they listen, this time?’

Annoyed chattering, scraping of tiny claws on stones, shaking of heads.

‘Who who?’ Owl arrived and settled two branches away from Eagle. ‘Who will listen?’
‘Won’t listen,’ Hare said. ‘But if Eagle will try …’

‘Not alone.’ Eagle lifted his wings to the cool night air. ‘You, Owl, will come with me. Your wisdom and my strength might do the trick.’

Cheers of assent rose from the forest creature. Eagle and Owl took flight and the congregation turned as one and swarmed after them. Voles and field mice rode on the backs of rabbits who hopped alongside weasels, stoats and foxes, all twisting between browning bracken, through flowering wild mint, skirting new fungi growth, until they came to the place.

Eagle and Owl were, of course, already there, deep in conversation with the ones they had come to see.

A burly ranger stared into the gold and black coals of a camp fire. His colleague sipped his first coffee of the day, the smell of which caused the creatures’ noses to wrinkle in disgust.

The animals waited in a respectful semi-circle, hearts thudding, ears straining.

‘Very well.’ The burly one huffed loudly. ‘If it’s so special, we’ll leave that tree be.’ He turned to the coffee sipper. ‘You’ll let the contractors know, won’t you, Bill?’

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4 thoughts on “In the packed congregation solemnity ruled”

  1. I see.

    Here’s my contribution:

    The old wooden church was bursting at the seams and, in the packed congregation, solemnity ruled.
    After all, it was a serious occasion. Mrs McGinty had been a church stalwart for many years, responsible for organising hymn book distribution, flowers behind the altar, leading the choir in song (she even chose the hymns every Sunday) – the list just went on and on.
    In fact, now that she was gone, people wondered how on earth the church would survive.
    Her death had been sudden and totally unexpected. While vacuuming the church, she had tripped over the chord and fallen forward, striking her head on a pew.
    The end had been bloody and painful – several hours before anyone found her (after all it was a Monday, not a day when people normally visited the old building).
    Someone passing by heard her moans, but by then it was too late and, no matter how hard the medical staff at the local hospital tried, they could not save her.
    Now, here was the entire town, come to pay their final respects to the indomitable Mrs McGinty.
    The solemnity was accentuated by the church organist. A doleful hymn if ever there was one and all anyone could see among the congregation were sorrowful faces.
    At odds, really, with Mrs McGinty’s personality while she was alive. A vibrant, cheerful woman quick to smile and laugh, she made light of life and always looked on the bright side no matter what challenges lay before her.
    Nothing sad or doleful for her. Life was for living and her involvement with the church merely added another dimension.
    The minister obviously did not feel the same and had instructed the organist to select hymns reflective of the solemn occasion. Likewise, his eulogy was more about the tragedy of losing the departed rather than celebrating a life well lived.
    Several members of the congregation had followed suit. Long dissertations about “how poor Mrs McGinty had met her end” rather than what a joy she had been to the local community.
    The service was now drawing to a close and the congregation was preparing for the coffin to be taken from the church to a waiting hearse.
    Suddenly, the coffin lid flew open and, to the shock and horror of everyone, Mrs McGinty sat bolt upright, laughing hilariously.
    “What’s wrong with you all?” she cackled. “I had a great time living. Stop moping about and be joyous and thankful that you had the privilege of knowing me.”
    And with that, she broke into a chorus of “Let’s drink, let’s drink to Lily the Pink, the Saviour of the Human Race.”

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